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Salaam Green on the ‘Privilege’ of Becoming City of Birmingham’s First Poet Laureate

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Writer and Educator Salaam Green will begin her two-year term in January and will receive an honorarium of $5,000 over the course of her term. (FILE)

By Barnett Wright

The Birmingham Times

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin has announced that writer and educator Salaam Green will become the city’s first poet laureate.

The mayor made the announcement Thursday as he wrapped up an update on his administration’s accomplishments and next steps during the unveiling of his strategic update of the city titled “The Blueprint.”

“What better person to lead the way [than Green] who has demonstrated a commitment to our arts community through the creation of her literary works, by hosting countless writer workshops as well as teaching our young people the power of the pen.” said the mayor.

Green will begin her two-year term in January and will receive an honorarium of $5,000 over the course of her term.

“This is a duty, a privilege, and as a citizen it is calling to be the people’s poet in a city rich in its foundation of justice and its progression towards unity,” Green said. “As the inaugural Poet Laureate alongside the noble diverse, inclusive, and inter-generational people of the Magic City we shall emerge towards the inseparably entwined journey of belonging through the healing power of words together.”

Green is an award-winning poet and author whose work has appeared in The Birmingham Times, Alabama Arts Journal, Scalawag, Bust, Feminist Review, Black Youth Project, Elephant Journal, Southern Women’s Review, AL.com, Birmingham Arts Journal and more.

She is the founder and director of Literary Healing Arts and a Road Scholar for the Alabama Humanities Alliance and a certified trainer for the Kellogg Foundation’s Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation initiative.

In Birmingham, Green has worked with a number of organizations including the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the Magic City Poetry Festival, the month-long celebration of poetry founded by Ashley M. Jones, the state of Alabama’s first Black and youngest poet laureate.

Woodfin said the poet laureate position is an honorary role and Green’s responsibilities will include making local appearances, facilitating public and educational programs, and building advocacy and community through poetry.

“This is just one of the initiatives that we plan to implement in shining a light on the creatives in our community,” Woodfin said. “I look forward to the poetry, programming and progress that will be born.”

The city said in a press release that the position recognizes Green’s “outstanding contributions to the literary arts and her commitment to fostering a deeper appreciation for poetry within our community.”

Meghann Bridgeman, President and CEO, Create Birmingham, said, “Birmingham’s literary community deserves to be recognized and celebrated. It was an honor to engage with local poets throughout the application process and we are thrilled to see Ms. Green lead the way as Birmingham’s first-ever poet laureate. We are grateful to the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the City of Birmingham and the Birmingham City Council, for embracing this initiative.”